Submitted to: Review Article
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: August 25, 2011
Publication Date: January 20, 2012
Citation: Niemira, B.A. 2012. Cold plasma decontamination of foods. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. 3:125-142.
Cold plasma is a novel nonthermal food processing technology which uses energetic, reactive gases to inactivate contaminating microbes on meats, poultry and fruits and vegetables. This flexible sanitizing method uses electricity and a carrier gas such as air, oxygen, nitrogen or helium; antimicrobial chemical agents are not required. The primary modes of action are due to UV light and reactive chemical products of the cold plasma ionization process. A wide array of cold plasma systems are under development which operate at atmospheric pressures or in low pressure treatment chambers. Reductions of greater than 5 logs can be obtained for pathogens such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. Effective treatment times can range from 120 s to as little as 3 s, depending on processing conditions. This promising area of technology is the subject of active research to enhance efficacy and to scale up to commercial levels.